Clinton Seeks Middle East Ceasefire

Clinton Seeks Middle East Ceasefire


Hillary Clinton in the region to help forge a cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel.
Clinton and President Obama are sinking considerable political capital into their effort to halt the Israeli assault. Their efforts are badly handicapped by the burden of untruth they carry which pretends that the “conflict” between Israel and Gaza is a battle between equals. It is not. It is, rather, a struggle between jailer and prisoner, with all the power, except that of morally justified protest, is on the jailer’s side.

by James M Wall


On her trip to the Middle East this Thanksgiving week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, to meet, first, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After this stop, the Secretary will fly to Cairo, Egypt, where Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is attempting to negotiate a ceasefire to Israel’s “Pillar of Cloud” assault on Gaza’s population.

Of course, her first stop would be to set up a  photo op with the leader of her government’s “best friend” in the Middle East.

Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, finds this friendship troubling:

A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza – beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably “defending itself” – is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all.

The reality is precisely the opposite: Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. . . . .Pretending that the US – and the Obama administration – bear no responsibility for what is taking place is sheer self-delusion, total fiction. It has long been the case that the central enabling fact in Israeli lawlessness and aggression is blind US support, and that continues, more than ever, to be the case under the presidency of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The US is not some neutral, uninvolved party. Whatever side of this conflict you want to defend – or if you’re one of those people who love to announce that you just wish the whole thing would go away – it’s still necessary to take responsibility for the key role played by the American government and this administration in enabling everything that is taking place.

Hillary Clinton is flying into a cauldron of death and destruction which the U.S. enabled to take place.  Now she expects to play a role in bringing an end to this latest development in American Middle East policy.

Before the Secretary arrived in the region Tuesday, the New York Times reported:

Senior Egyptian officials in Cairo said Israel and Hamas were “very close” to a cease-fire agreement. “We have not received final approval, but I hope to receive it any moment,” said Essam el-Haddad, President Mohamed Morsi’s top foreign affairs adviser.

Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, said in Cairo that Israel needed to end its blockade of Gaza. Israel says the blockade keeps arms from entering the coastal strip.

Israel’s rationale for the blockade, of course, is a subterfuge which convinces no one but an American public lulled by a pro-Israel media, and a bought and paid for political leadership,  into believing the blockade is a purely defensive measure. The truth is that the blockade is one of Israel’s many forms of mass torture of the Palestinian population held down by a brutal military occupation.

Hillary Clinton would not be in the Middle East if she, and President Obama, did not have some assurance from Hamas and Israel that a “ceasefire” would be arranged.  The Secretary plans to retire in January, 2013.  A failure to halt this current murderous assault from Israel soon, would not be the way she would want to end her diplomatic career.

Clinton and President Obama are sinking considerable political capital into their effort to halt the Israeli assault. Their efforts are badly handicapped by the burden of untruth they carry which pretends that the “conflict” between Israel and Gaza is a battle between equals. It is not. It is, rather, a struggle between jailer and prisoner, with all the power, except that of morally justified protest, is on the jailer’s side.

Outside the English-speaking nations of the U.S., Canada and Britain, support for Israel is evaporating rapidly with each new demonstration of immoral national conduct. As a notable example, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke in Cairo last week and harshly condemned Israel.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech at Cairo University after his meeting with the Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during the first day of his two-day trip to Egypt, November 17, 2012. Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel, praised Egypt’s president Mursi on Saturday for recalling his ambassador from Tel Aviv in response to Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Erdogan told a Cairo University audience that “Israel would be held to account for the children among 40 people dead in three days of air strikes on Gaza.”  The Turkish leader leveled this significant charge:

“Everyone must know that sooner or later there will be a holding to account for the massacre of these innocent children killed inhumanely in Gaza.”

To Israel’s claim that its military assault on Gaza is no different than the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, Orthodox Jewish blogger Jeremiah Haber has a statistic that puts the two sides’ fire power in perspective: “IDF rockets and missiles have killed more innocent [Gaza] civilians in the last three days [of this current assault] than all the Hamas rockets combined in the last eight years!”

Little of this perspective is seen or heard in main stream U.S. media, but alternative media outlets are growing in number and influence. CounterPunch was up this week with an eloquent and sobering essay by Jennifer Lowerstein, a faculty associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her essay, Death in Gaza: Deja-Vu, includes a description of the impact of the Gaza assault.

All the sounds and sights and smells of slaughter verify the damage and danger of aerial assaults and targeted killings; apartment buildings still buzzing with human activity when missiles pierced through their ceilings offer up their dead and wounded to the deafening skies.

Progressive US President Barak Obama and his allies applaud Israel’s masterful techniques of preventive war as self-defense; its sophistication at using state of the art weaponry against mosques, homes, markets and schools; re-emphasize at press conferences the right of Israel to defend itself against the human cattle they have justly corralled into densely packed camps to be bound and slaughtered or starved and transferred elsewhere.

The alternative media web site, Mondoweiss, provided its viewers with a valuable example of one journalist, Associated Press Washington correspondent, Matthew Lee, who challenged the conventional pro-Israel perspective of Washington’s policy shapers.

In the short clip below, Lee engages in a lively exchange with State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland,

Palestine has no right to self-defense ?


An invaluable web site is produced by the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU). Since the start of the Gaza assault, IMEU uses facts to refute Israel’s claim that it is waging a war against militants, not civilians.  In a November 18 report (the numbers are now higher), the IMEU provides this analysis:

Although Israeli officials stress that the Israeli military carries out “surgical strikes” and goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, evidence documented by human rights organizations shows that Israel has repeatedly and deliberately used disproportionate force – a war crime – as a tactic to kill enemy fighters, minimize the risk of injury to Israeli soldiers during military operations, and to establish “deterrence.”

In recent years, the Israeli military has formulated its “deterrence” as the “Dahiya Doctrine.”

A central tenet of Israeli military policy is “deterrence.” This is embodied in the so-called “Dahiya Doctrine,” which dictates the use of overwhelming and disproportionate firepower and the targeting of government and civilian infrastructure during military operations. It received its name from the Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut, a stronghold of Hezbollah, which Israel destroyed almost completely during its assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

In October 2008, Gabi Siboni, Director of the Military and Strategic Affairs Program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a quasi-governmental think tank with close ties to the Israeli political and military establishments, published a policy paper entitled “Disproportionate Force: Israel’s Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War.”

It stated:’ With an outbreak of hostilities [with Hezbollah], the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.

The Dahiya Doctrine was developed by Israel to maintain its control of the Middle East, which it likes to describe as a “dangerous neighborhood”.

This is the doctrine which Barack Obama embraces when he allows Israel to carry out a military attack which violates international laws and which is, at its core, immoral.

It is this policy which President Obama endorsed when he sent Hillary Clinton to the region to help broker an end to the slaughter. We can only hope she and leaders in the region will find a ceasefire solution.

To the essential question, what next, one thing cries out as an essential part of how this country should move forward.

When President Obama returns from his Asia trip, he must reflect on how much of the blame for the Gaza assault rests with him and his willingness to allow Benjamin Netanyahu to carry Israel, and the U.S. as a major enabler, into an ugly, brutal and immoral assault on a civilian population.

Barack Obama has a new four-year term before him. He will not run again for public office. In that sense, he is a free man.  Now is the time for him to be the courageous and moral leader he must surely want to be, and his public wants him to be.

To do this, he must take control of U.S. foreign policy away from both the Israel Lobby, and another Israel-enabler, the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against. The Gaza assault, the second against Gaza in four years, is an immoral act that must not be repeated.

The picture at the top of the page of the explosion in Gaza city, is from Reuters. It appeared in Ha’aretz.

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James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. He has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region. Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. His website: Wall Writings